Barnardo's cleared by Charity Commission after 'white privilege' blog storm

Barnardo’s has been cleared of breaching charity law after it published a blog about white privilege that was branded “ideological dogma” by a group of Conservative MPs.

The children’s charity received a flood of racist comments after it began tweeting about this issue, and what could be done to tackle it and create a fairer society, in a blog post at the end of October last year.

It was then thrust into a “culture wars” row by a group of Conservative MPs from the Common Sense parliamentary group, who wrote to the charity claiming the term white privilege was “ideological dogma”.

Signatories to the letter included Sir Edward Leigh, the MP for Gainsborough; Marco Longhi, the MP for Dudley North; Craig Mackinlay, the MP for South Thanet; James Sunderland, the MP for Bracknell; and Henry Smith, the MP for Crawley.

The group of MPs asked the regulator to investigate “whether this foray into political activism is compatible with Barnardo’s noble purpose and charitable status”.

The ensuing storm prompted a statement signed by more than 200 charity leaders backing the work Barnardo’s was doing.

The Charity Commission said today the blog was compatible with Barnardo’s charitable purpose.

A commission spokesperson said: “We examined concerns raised with us about a blog published by the charity on white privilege.

“Our role was to consider whether the trustees acted reasonably in line with their legal duties in making the decision to publish the blog.

“The trustees provided a reasoned response as to how the blog furthered the charity’s objects and were able to show that consideration had been given to how the blog would meet the charity’s purposes prior to its publication.”

The children’s charity welcomed the commission’s decision.

A Barnardo’s spokesperson said: “As the UK’s largest children’s charity, we believe we have a legitimate role to play in encouraging an informed approach to difficult conversations about complex issues, including racism.

“We have always spoken out on the challenges affecting the children we serve, and must continue to do so – whether on poverty, mental health, abuse and exploitation – or on the realities of prejudice and discrimination.

“We have also listened closely to those who raised concerns with the commission, and are keen to have an ongoing dialogue about how we can work together to continue improving outcomes for all vulnerable children across the UK.”

The same group of Conservative MPs criticised the National Trust after it published a report researching its properties’ historic links to slavery, despite the Charity Commission saying it had received just three complaints about its work.

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